Shots are the basis of any great video. Think of them as the foundation of your project, and without a variety in them, your video would be dull.
Whether you’re a beginner or novice, understanding the basic types of camera shots—and how they’ll affect your viewers—will help you bring your ideas to life.
What is a camera shot?
A camera shot is made up of a series of frames shot continually from the moment the camera starts rolling until the moment it stops. Camera shots are an essential part of any video production. And by combining different types of shots, angles, and camera movements, videographers can accentuate certain emotions and ideas. Every shot gives you new information that the other one could not.
The simplest and most commonly used shots types are called wide, medium, and close-up. When making your shot choices, it’s essential to ask yourself a couple of questions: What do you want the audience to know? And what do you want them to feel?
It’s crucial to set up your shots, so it’s clear what the audience needs to know and feel. Once you figure that out, you can decipher the order of the shots.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these shots:
In wide shots, the whole subject is visible from top to bottom (or head to toe if it’s a person) as well as the background. Wide shots can be staged by placing the camera far away from your characters to give a broad perspective and understanding of a new location. When wide shots are used in this way, they’re also called establishing shots.
Extremely wide shots (also called extremely long shots) can introduce the setting of a video or scene. They make your subject appear small against their location. This shot can be great for emphasizing a location or isolation.
Wide shots are often followed by medium shots, which move in a little closer to the subject matter. They show people from the waist up, or if the subject isn’t human, only part of it fills the screen. It emphasizes more of your subject while keeping the background visible.
Medium shots are personal and close enough to establish emotion and conversation—think about when you’re talking to a friend, for instance. It is the most common shot you’ll see in movies.
Just like the name says, close-up shots fill the entire screen with a view of the subject up close and personal. When you need to emphasize an emotional moment or story point, close-up shots can be particularly effective.
There are other variations of the three main shots—like extreme close-ups and medium wide shots, for example.
One of the skills of creating a compelling video is figuring out how to use these shots within a scene. Say, for example, you’re shooting a scene in medium while some people are having a conversation, and suddenly one of them drops something shocking on everyone. Going in for a close-up shot at the moment of the surprise will visually give that moment a lot more impact than if you would have been filming the scene in medium shots the whole time.
Each detail counts when it comes to video: every shot size you choose will affect the viewer. Using a variety of different types of camera shots in your videos will impact how your message is perceived. It’s essential to control these elements, so your video tells the story you want to create.